Buying a home is a big step. While the home buying process is filled with potential challenges, we believe that with our expertise and support by your side—guiding you through every step of the process—you can not only find the perfect home to fit your needs, but you have an amazing home-buying experience. These are the steps we guide you through to make that happen.


Step 1: Choose An Agent

There is a lot at stake when selling a home, and many things need to go right in order to have the best possible outcome. An experienced real estate agent will guide you through the entire process so that you can maximize your return on investment, while minimizing your liabilities and reducing the amount of time and stress from you.

10 Questions to Ask An Agent

1. Are you a full time Realtor®, and for how long?

2. How many homes have you sold in the last year?

3. What is your strategy for pricing my home?

4. What is your marketing plan for my home?

5. How and when (days/hours) can I reach you?

6. Will I be communicating with you or someone else?

7. What is your commission and are there other fees?

8. What if I want to cancel my agreement with you?

9. Why should I choose you over any other Realtor®?

10. Do you have any references?




Step 2: Get Pre-Qualified

Getting your finances lined up is the first step in the home-buying process. Meet with a lender so that you can determine the amount you are qualified for, how much down payment and closing costs you will pay, and what your monthly payment will be. It’s always a good idea to meet with more than one lender to compare costs. Your lender will provide you with a loan pre-qualification letter, which we will submit with any offers.

What You'll Need

  • Last 30 days paycheck stubs
  • Last two years W-2
  • Last two months bank statements
  • Last two years of tax returns if self-employed

What Lenders Evaluate

  • Assets: How much you have saved and other liquid assets.
  • Debt-to-Income Ratio: Your monthly debt payments are divided by your monthly income.
  • Credit Score: A number between 300–850 that helps lenders predict how likely you are to pay back their loan.
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Key Terms

Closing costs

Fees you pay for the services to process the purchase of your home. Services may include the title company, lender, appraiser, inspector, surveyor, and/or attorney fees.


Usually made up of property taxes, insurance, and mortgage interest. Your bank requires you to pre-pay these accounts in order to protect their investment.

What You'll Get

  • Pre-approval Letter: This letter will tell you how much you are pre-approved to purchase. You'll submit a copy of this letter with any offer you submit.
  • Payment Amount: The lender will give you an estimate of your monthly payment, including taxes and insurance.

Step 3: Decide What You Want



Step 4: Search For A Property

Searching for a home is the fun part, but it’s not as simple as searching on the MLS—not if you’re going to find “the one”. A professional agent will search in 7 places:

  • The MLS
  • Authorization to Show
  • Syndication Sites
  • For Sale by Owner
  • Expired / Canceled Listings
  • Unlisted Property
  • My Network

Key Terms

Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

A database of listed properties established by the local board of Realtors® where cooperating brokers can share data on properties they have for sale.

How to View a Property

Whether you find a property online or by driving by, we will research and preview everything together.

Step 5: Home Valuation

A seller’s asking price may or may not be in line with today’s market values. For any property you are interested in, your agent can do a market analysis to determine fair market value, and discuss the factors that impact the property’s value so that you can make your offer with confidence.


Five Factors that Determine Market Value


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  • Comparable Sales
    • Similar Home Comps
    • Neighborhood Comps
  • Amenities & Updates
    • Finishes
    • Features
    • Curb Appeal
  • The Market
    • Interest Rates
    • Supply and Demand
    • Rate of Appreciation
  • Location
    • City
    • Schools
    • Convenience
    • Surroundings
  • Condition
    • Presentation
    • Cleanliness
    • Maintenance


Step 6: Contract Negotiations

Buying a home often requires negotiation. The first negotiation occurs when you submit an offer to purchase the property. The seller can accept, reject, or counter the offer. Once an offer is agreed upon by all parties, the second point of negotiations are for inspection repairs. The goal in all negotiations is to help you achieve the best possible results acceptable to the buyer and seller in order to proceed to closing.

Key Contract Terms to be Negotiated

1. Sale Price
2. Concessions
3. Closing Date
4. Contingencies
5. Inclusions/Exclusions

Should You Buy A Home Warranty?

A home warranty provides coverage for repairs and replacements of systems and appliances on the property. This may include electrical, heating, plumbing, air, and home appliances. Warranties are usually for one or two years and can be paid for by the buyer or seller. See the HSA Home Warranty to learn more.

Key Terms

Earnest Money

An amount of money pledged by the buyer to the seller, usually held by a title company, that shows the buyer’s good faith in the transaction.


Closing costs and lender fees that you pay on behalf of the buyer. It’s a way for them to finance their closing costs.


Terms that have to be met in order for the purchase to proceed or be finalized. The most common contingencies are for loans, inspections, and appraisals.

Step 7: Home Inspections

Depending upon the terms of the contract, you have the right to inspect the property, within the contract-defined time frames, to look for problems and defects. Your realtor® cannot recommend a specific inspection firm or inspector, but will provide you with a list of insured inspectors to make your search easier. Inspections are usually paid for by the buyer and may include:

General Home Inspection

A general home inspection evaluates the condition of the roof, mechanical, structural, plumbing, windows and doors, insulation, appliances, fireplaces, exterior surfaces, yard grading, and the crawl space or basement.

Termite Inspection

A termite inspection looks for past or present termite activity and any damage that may have been caused.


Water tests may be conducted to determine the presence of E. coli (often in wells or private water systems). Wells may also be tested to determine the functionality of the well and pressure tanks.


Sewer and septic inspections may be conducted to ensure that sewage lines are clear and septic tanks and lateral fields (when present) are operating properly.


A radon test may be conducted (typically in basement homes) to determine the level of radon in the air. EPA suggests radon levels be below 4.0 pCi/L.


Mold tests may be conducted by an environmental specialist to determine the level of mold on surfaces or in the air of the home.

Other Specialists

Other specialists may be hired by the buyer to conduct more detailed inspections on the property.

Reinspect Repairs

The best way to ensure that repairs have been properly completed is to get proof (receipts and photos) and/or hire your home inspector to reinspect the repairs. A re-inspection can cost anywhere from $50-$100 and is the buyer’s responsibility.

Step 8: Home Appraisal

Depending upon the terms of the contract, the purchase may be contingent upon an appraisal. An appraisal is an unbiased professional opinion of the value of the home, typically required by the lender, to determine the market value of the property.

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Appraisal Required Repairs

If the bank requires an appraisal, an appraiser may also require that certain conditions be met or repairs be completed prior to closing in order for the bank to make a loan on the property.

Step 9: Title Work

Sellers are required to do a title search in order to provide proof of a clear and marketable title to the property. A clear and marketable title means that there are no outstanding liens, claims or interests on the property claimed by someone other than the seller. As a buyer, your lender will require you to purchase a title insurance loan policy and a title insurance owner's policy to insure against any title defects that might arise in the future regarding ownership rights.

What Does A Title Search Look For?

  • Chain of Title
  • Outstanding Mortgages
  • Other Loans/Liens
  • Unpaid HOA Dues
  • Unpaid Judgments
  • Unpaid Property Taxes
  • Property Restrictions
  • Property Easements

Who Pays For Closing Company Fees?

Depending upon the terms of the contract, the buyer or seller may pay for the title company and/or policy, including a lender policy if applicable.

Step 10: Prepare For Closing

We’re almost there! To prepare for closing day there are several steps you’ll need to take to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Pre-Closing Checklist

1. Schedule Closing Date: We will work with the seller and their agent to determine a closing time that works for all parties.

2. Get Homeowner's Insurance: Prior to closing you need to have a homeowner’s insurance policy in place on the home.

3. Review Settlement Statement: The settlement statement shows the cost of your purchase and the amount of money you will bring to closing.

4. Set Up Property Utilities: Call utility companies to have utilities transferred into your name.

5. Schedule Address Change: Go to www.usps.com to have your mail forwarded to your new address.

6. Prepare Funds for Closing: Bring a certified check for funds you bring to closing. The lender will bring a check or wire their portion of the funds.

7. Do the Final Walk-Thru: Walk through the property to ensure the condition of the property is acceptable to you before taking ownership.

Step 11: Final Walk-Thru

The final walk-thru is your last opportunity to see the property prior to taking ownership. The walk-thru is done to ensure the seller has removed all items from the property and that the condition of the home is unchanged. This is also your last opportunity to ensure all repairs on the home have been completed.

What to look for at the final walk-thru

1. That the property is in the same general condition as the contract date.

2. That all agreed upon inspection repairs have been completed.

3. That all belongings have been removed from the property.

Step 12: Closing Day

Closing day is the agreed upon date written in your contract when all closing documents are signed by both parties and all funds exchange hands. As the buyer, you’ll bring any required funds (closing costs and prepaids) to the closing, and your lender will bring or wire the remaining balance (your loan amount). This is also when the seller will hand over all keys and remotes to the property. Once documents are signed and money is transferred, you are a homeowner! Congratulations!

What to Bring

1. All persons listed on the contract should be present to sign.

2. Photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.

3. Certified cashier's check for any funds you are required to bring.

4. Proof of an active home insurance policy.

Why Utilize A Buyer's Agent?

Buying a home is a big step with high stakes! An experienced buyer’s agent will guide you through the entire home-buying process so that you can find the home you want at a price that fits your budget, without all the stress.

Benefits of Having An Experienced Agent


Your agent has a plan to guide you through each step of the buying process.


Your agent will advocate for your best interests throughout the transaction.


Your agent knows the market and every part of the home-buying process.


Your agent has access to more properties so you can find what you want.


Your agent will save you time by researching and organizing showings.


Your agent will help you negotiate the best possible terms on your property.


Your agent will help you prevent and overcome problems along the way.

What A Buyer's Agent Does Not Do

Tell you what to buy

We’ll show you the best properties that fit your criteria, but we’ll never tell you what to buy.

Tell you what to offer

We will research the market value of the property but we won’t tell you what to offer.

Tell you what to do

We’re here to guide you through the process, but you’re in charge.

Give Legal Advice

We are not attorneys, and therefore do not (and cannot) give legal advice.

Who pays the buyer’s Agent Fee?

As a buyer, commissions are typically paid for by the seller, but per the contract, either the buyer or seller may pay the commissions.